Although growth is slowest in more than a year, results are still in line with long-term demands.

By Patrick Appleton

Slower growth saw passenger demand moderate in February, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.

The latest figures from IATA show that demand—measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs)—increased by 5.3% compared to February 2018, a slowdown from 6.8% in January.

Despite being the slowest rate of growth in more than a year, IATA said the results are in line with long-term demand trends.

After January’s strong performance, we settled down a bit in February, in line with concerns about the broader economic outlook

Capacity—measured in available seat kilometers (ASKs)—increased by 5.4% year-on-year, with load factor slipping 0.1 percentage point to 80.6%.

“After January’s strong performance, we settled down a bit in February, in line with concerns about the broader economic outlook,” said IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

“While overall economic confidence appears to be softening, aviation continues to deliver solid results, helping to sustain global commerce and the movement of people.”

In the domestic markets, demand grew by 6.4% in February to outstrip rising capacity figures at 5.8%. Load factor edged up 0.5 percentage point to 82.4%.

Internationally, demand rose 4.6% year-on-year, which was a slowdown from January’s 5.9% growth. Capacity climbed 5.1% but load factor fell by 0.4 percentage point to 79.5%

Airlines in all regions but the Middle East showed traffic growth versus the year-ago period.

See the breakdown by international region below:

  • European carriers showed the strongest performance for a fifth consecutive month. Passenger demand increased by 7.6%, compared to a year ago, unchanged from January. Capacity rose 8.0% and load factor slid 0.3 percentage point to 82.3%. 
  • Asia-Pacific airlines’ February traffic rose 4.2% compared to the year-ago period, a substantial slowdown from the 7.2% increase recorded in January. Capacity increased 4.7% and load factor dipped 0.3 percentage point to 81.0%.
  • Middle East carriers recorded a 0.8% traffic decline in February compared to a year ago, the only region to report a drop year-over-year. Capacity rose 2.9% and load factor fell 2.7 percentage points to 72.6%. 
  • North American airlines’ traffic climbed 4.2% in February, a decline from 5.4% growth in January. Capacity rose 2.9% and load factor was up 1.0 percentage point to 79.0%.
  • Latin American airlines saw traffic rise 4.3% compared to February 2018, a slippage from 5.4% annual growth in January. Capacity increased by 5.6%, and load factor dropped 1.0 percentage point to 81.4%.
  • African airlines experienced a 2.5% rise in traffic for the month compared to the year-ago period, down from 5.1% growth in January. Capacity rose 0.3%, and load factor climbed 1.5 percentage points to 69.7%.
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